Do you find your feet sweat constantly at times for no reason at all? Do you carry an extra pair of socks or shoes with you in case you sweat too much? Though it is normal to sweat a little when the weather is warm, if you are in a crowded area with minimal airflow, or at times when you feel a little anxious, excessive foot sweating may be an indication of hyperhidrosis. At Paragon Podiatry, we are able to diagnose and treat patients who may be struggling with sweaty feet.
What is Hyperhidrosis?
Sweating is a necessary function to help keep your body cool when temperatures heat up. People with hyperhidrosis have overactive sweat glands causing them to sweat more than necessary even when the weather is ideal and there is otherwise no trigger. With over 200,000 sweat glands in your feet, they tend to sweat more than other parts of the body, but people with hyperhidrosis may also sweat excessively from their hands, underarms, and face while the rest of the body remains dry. It is estimated that 5% or more of the population may have hyperhidrosis, but this condition is widely underreported as many are unaware that it is a treatable medical condition. There are two general types of hyperhidrosis: primary focal hyperhidrosis and secondary hyperhidrosis.
Primary Focal Hyperhidrosis
This type of hyperhidrosis begins when the patient is a child or in early adolescence and is otherwise healthy. Primary focal hyperhidrosis means that the cause is not due to another medication or external factor. This form generally affects one or a few areas of the body on both sides and occurs frequently with at least one major incident a week. Typical areas of sweating include the feet, hands, underarms, and face.
This type of hyperhidrosis means that the condition is caused by an underlying condition or a side effect of medication. With this form, sweating may occur across the entire body and often appears in adulthood. You may also sweat while you’re sleeping. It may be caused by medical conditions such as menopause, diabetes, or hyperthyroidism.
Signs of hyperhidrosis may include:
- Excessive sweating with episodes for at least 6 months without reason
- Frequent episodes of sweating through socks
- Foot odor
- Sweating that interferes with everyday activities
This condition may also increase a patient’s risk of skin irritation and infection as the skin is constantly wet becoming soft, white, and can peel easily allowing bacteria to enter. Patients may also experience athletes’ foot or jock itch frequently.
To ensure a proper diagnosis, several tests may be conducted after a physical exam and review of symptoms. One of the tests may include coating your feet with a starch-iodine powder that will change colors once the patient begins to sweat. Other medical tests including blood and urine samples may also be conducted to determine if there is an underlying condition causing excessive sweating.
Treatment options will vary depending on the type of hyperhidrosis you have. If your sweating is due to an underlying condition, your treatment will focus on addressing your condition.
Many patients may try to treat their condition on their own and in mild cases, home treatments can be successful. Some options you can try on your own include washing your feet and toes with antibacterial soap, using foot powders, and switching to natural fiber socks to wick away moisture and help keep your feet dry. We also recommend changing socks throughout the day and rotating between shoes each day so that they have a chance to dry out.
If these home remedies prove ineffective or if your case is more moderate to severe, we are proud to offer professional treatment options such as botulinum toxin injections and laser therapy.
- Botulinum Toxin Injections- When injected into the feet, Botox can temporarily block signals so that your sweat glands are not stimulated to sweat. Most patients report sweating less than half the amount they would prior to treatment and stay dry throughout the day more often than before. This is a temporary treatment with effects that last at least 6 months, so treatments must be repeated for lasting results. This option is minimally invasive and can also be used on other areas of the body such as the underarms and hands.
- Laser Therapy Treatment- Laser energy can be used to treat excessive foot sweating. Laser energy is sent into the targeted area to heat up the sweat glands, damaging them and preventing them from producing sweat. This is a single treatment that can produce longer results than Botox injections.
Sweating is a necessary bodily function that helps maintain your health, but excessive sweating not related to heat or social situations can harm not only your health but your overall well-being. If you suspect you may have this condition, contact us so that we can get you the best treatment option for your lifestyle. For more information on how we can treat excessive foot sweating or if you would like to schedule a consultation, contact Foot & Ankle Center of Iowa today.